It’s downright scary how much goes on in the world these days without the general public being aware of it, and Canada is no exception.
Couple that with the cracks in our food chain that the virus has also uncovered, and some things become mind-blowingly surreal very quickly.
Food insecurity is very real for many families in Nunavut and a number of people here usually clamour quite loudly when one of our few grocery outlets dump food items that the public views as still being usable.
I’ve been following our supply-and-demand trail quite closely during this pandemic, mostly focusing on how the essential goods we require continue to make it to store shelves during a time of quarantines, isolation and public restrictions.
That curiosity (the curse and blessing of all writers) took me in a totally different direction this past week; one that had me shaking my head in disbelief and feeling not so great about being a card-carrying member of the human race once again.
I was led to a piece penned by Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois that, at first glance, had me thinking fake news until a few Google searches confirmed the professor’s claim that there is, indeed, horror going on in the countryside.
The horror Charlebois alludes to – with so many people facing food insecurity on a daily basis in this country before the pandemic struck, and four million more Canadians losing their jobs as a result of Covid-19 – is the fact that millions of litres of milk are being thrown away, more than two-million eggs have been eliminated from the food chain and pigs and chickens are being euthanized regularly at farms across the country.
I would also have selected the same word to describe these actions as Charlebois did – reprehensible in any way one cares to look at it.
In late April and early May, 200,000 chickens had to be euthanized, more than 90,000 pigs had to be culled and discarded in our nation, and millions of litres of milk were dumped into sewers.
And you can bet the numbers are higher than what has been confirmed by the media to date.
Just think of what those numbers could have done to address food insecurity in Nunavut.
Those producing milk, eggs and poultry are supposedly immune to waste due to operating under special permits sanctioned by the government to meet domestic demand, but Covid-19 kicked that tin can far down the street as far as non-waste is concerned.
And our own little kick in the pants is yet to come.
Oh yes, valued readers, you’ll never hear it from the government or marketing boards, but it’s impossible for supply-managed farms to lose money.
As Charlebois accurately pointed out in his piece, any losses sustained by supply-managed farms are pooled over the years and pricing formulas provide farms with a decent profit.
That means that, you guessed it, we consumers are ultimately going to pay for every litre of milk poured out, every egg tossed away, and every chicken and pig euthanized in this country until things get back to normal.
There simply must be a better way to deal with waste, especially at this level, within this system.
Surely Canadians will raise their collective voices in disgust and anger about such waste and demand changes be made in that sector of the farming industry.
This is, indeed, food for thought moving forward.